As summer winds down, families everywhere are taking one last vacation before the rigors of the school year take back the reins. And nothing epitomizes the family vacation more than a road trip. Parents, kids, and other assorted passengers piled into the family car; crisscrossing the country in search of excitement, enjoying the togetherness, pausing for the random road side oddity. It’s an adventure like no other.
For the nights you’re not on the road (but still hoping to cram in as much family fun as possible), nothing beats family movie night! Whether you’re snuggled up on the sofa or camped out in the backyard, these films capture all the adventure, fun, and occasional misfortune of the family road trip.
So grab the popcorn — and your map, compass, flashlight or fairy dust — and settle in for a rip-roaring, vicarious vacation.
Did everyone use the bathroom? We’ve got a long trip ahead of us…
I hope to get around to a “Greatest Hits of 2014” post for all of DesignerDaddy.com, but until then this one will have to do. It’s been a while since I’ve posted any SuperLunchNotes, so here’s a Year In Review/Top 14 (give or take)/Best of 2014 thing. It was hard to narrow them down or pick a statistical manner in which to list them, thus I went with a mix of most popular and personal favorites of both mine and Jon’s. Bon Appétit! (Note: click all the smaller notes to view in Big-O-Vision!)
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Unless you live in a cave — and even some caves have decent Wi-Fi — your kids will very likely get hooked on video games. Just accept the fact that your phone and tablet will never, ever be smudge-free again. Here are a few new apps to educate, entertain and occupy the wee ones in your family. I’m calling these “back-to-school apps,” but they could just as easily be called “prep-for-school” or just “not-annoying-or-violent” apps.
And unless noted, none of these include in-app purchases, and all are ad-free. Also, not a single SpongeBob. Apps tested by me and and my expert panel of one 4-and-a-half-year-old.
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COOKIE MONSTER’S CHALLENGE
This deliciously fun app is the first mobile team-up between kiddie powerhouses PBS Kids and Sesame Street. It launches just in time for Sesame Street’s 45th (!) season, which premiers September 15 on PBS Kids (check your local listings).
While the graphics and interface are clean and simple (as they should be), don’t be fooled into thinking this is a simple — or short — activity. In fact it’s pretty elaborate. Epic, even. There are 10 mini games that focus on skills vital to the pre-k crowd – like memory, following directions and self control. There are 9 levels, each one ever-so-slightly more challenging to keep your little ones on their adorable toes. The final payoff is a Rube Goldberg-esque cookie-making contraption that requires completion of all 9 levels for Cookie Monster to finally get his cookies. I’m not sure how he survives the anticipation!
But Cookie keeps his composure, as did my son… completing each level, finishing each piece of the cookie machine, and feeling pretty darn excited with each accomplishment.
C is for cookie, but we give Cookie Monster’s Challenge an A.
Preview / buy on iTunes • Ages 3-5 • iPad only • $2.99
Last week was “Space Week” on SuperLunchNotes, because Jon was also learning about space at his preschool summer program. Space Dress Up Day, Build A Rocket Day, Space Moon Bounce Day… capped off on Friday with a display of a “real rocket!” I’m not sure exactly what that entailed, but he sure was excited to tell me about it!
WEEK 48: July 7 – July 11, 2014
Buzz Lightyear | Nova | Silver Surfer | Miss Piggy | Han Solo
Serendipitously, on Wednesday I accompanied Jon’s class on a field trip… and Toy Story was the in-bus film!
Some of my favorite moments as a dad are ones I don’t even see. Like my son’s face when he finds the note I put in his lunch every day. I make them either the night prior or before he gets up the next morning; I then sneak them into his lunch bag, and send him off to preschool with Papa. I’ve heard plenty of compliments about them — from Jon’s teachers, his classmates, his classmates’ parents. And every afternoon when I pick him up, I ask Jon if he liked his note — you know, as a way to strengthen his memory recall and attention to detail…
So even though I don’t observe my son’s daily discovery, or get to see his friends huddled in anticipation of each new character, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve been doing this for nearly a year now, and while it’s sometimes a chore to keep coming up with new ideas, it also forces me to think of something positive to say as I send him out into the world each day. It’s my little way of staying connected. A way to pass down my vast and vital knowledge of superheroes and pop culture. And it’s a way to use my powers as a Dad for good!
For this Father’s Day, I was included in a campaign for Oral-B called Power of Dad. One of the components was to post photos illustrating my paternal powers or other special fathering moments. I decided instead to dedicate a week’s worth of SuperLunchNotes to the campaign, while offering some much-needed reminders to my son regarding oral hygiene. I’m setting my #PowerOfDad to stealth mode.
Below are the notes, each captioned with a feature of Oral-B’s newest toothbrush, the Oral-B 7000 Black…and also a plug for their awesome floss.
WEEK 43: June 2 – June 6, 2014 (Oral Hygiene Week)
Hulk | The Count | Wonder Woman | Venom | Princess Leia
I’d said I was taking a break from theme weeks, but after I did Martian Manhunter last Monday, I caved and decided to do ALIEN WEEK! In brainstorming, I found that while DC is teeming with beings from other planets, there are significantly fewer in the Marvel universe. At least ones that my son would know. In the DCU, on the other hand, its brightest and best—Superman—is an alien among aliens. Add in all his cousins, pets and villains, the Hawks, Starfire from the Titans, all of Apokolips and the New Gods, the Green Lantern Corps, plus the entire Legion of Superheroes, and you’ve got yourself a full-scale invasion. Enjoy this collection of alien doodles, I hope you will!
WEEK 29: Feb 24 – Feb 28, 2014
I was thinking I’d probably save Monster Week for Halloween, but that’s a long way away, and JJ had rediscovered the cheesy late-70s Godzilla cartoons on Hulu. I say “rediscovered” because he’d devoured them all about a year earlier when they were on Netflix. If you’ve never seen it, at the very least you need to check out the epic theme song. At that age it must be fun for everything to be brand new about every six months!
There were a bevvy of monsters to choose from, so I’m sure I’ll be able to do a sequel down the road with Mssrs. Cookie, Grouch and Sully, among others. However, I draw the line at Godzooky. What a tool.
WEEK 26: Feb 3 – Feb 7, 2014
Of all the fellow designer dads I’ve interviewed,* Khoi Vinh is the one I’ve known the longest. We were together in the DC design trenches early in our careers, building up our portfolios and burning lots of midnight oil. While I can’t think of a designer whose style (and personality) is more different than mine, I’ve always respected and admired him and his work. As we’re both now dads of preschoolers, we finally have something more in common. Except that he also has twins, so I obviously have some catching up to do. I settled for catching up through this Q&A.
Q&A with designer dad Khoi Vinh
Tell me briefly about your design career: how long in the industry, what kinds of clients you have and/or work you specialize in.
I graduated from art school in 1993 with an illustration degree but have done some kind of design ever since. Jeebus. Twenty years. I started out in print media and switched to digital media in 1998.
DD note: Khoi’s being coy (sorry, had to do it) and leaving out lots of details. He was the design director for NYTimes.com from 2006-2010, created a photo collage app, is a published author, and has been blogging for over a decade at Subtraction.com. In 2011, Fast Company named him one of “The 50 Most Influential Designers in America.” Coy, indeed.
Like most of the world, I was first introduced to the work of Evan Spiridellis (the designer half of the humor site, JibJab) through the still-hilarious lampoon of the 2004 presidential election, “This Land.” In 2011, he and brother Gregg launched StoryBots, an awesome online land of apps, videos, books and activities for kids (and parents). As a longtime fan, I was downright giddy Evan agreed to a DDQ&A!
Q&A with designer dad Evan Spiridellis
Tell me briefly about your design/illustration career.
My brother and I started JibJab back in 1999. Early on we supported the studio by doing service work for clients like Disney, Scholastic, Kraft and Sony — but the goal was always to build a new kind of entertainment company. So we would take on enough client work to pay the rent and our team, then we would turn down commercial projects until the coffers ran dangerously low. Nowadays, JibJab supports itself by selling our products directly to our audience without commercial interference. We much prefer this approach 🙂 READ FULL ARTICLE >>
Kevin Clash’s Accuser Calls “Take Backs”
As a follow up to my most recent post, I am happy — and honestly, quite amazed — to learn that the Kevin Clash sex scandal has gone away. Not amazed Clash is innocent, but that his accuser retracted the malicious statements about their supposed pre-legal relationship. Stories like this rarely end with the liars telling the truth or the suspicious being blameless. (I’m looking at you Petraeus. And Schwarzenegger. And Armstrong. You know this could go on forever…)
Perhaps the media cycle of scandals and supposed scandals is in such high turnover, the fact that the world learned of Clash’s homosexuality in the same breath as accusations of sex with minors will move along to the non-news aisle without a hitch. And keep fewer fools from continuing to relate the two. I’ll also be watching Sesame Workshop to see if they continue to stand by their man behind the Elmo.
So congrats, Mr. Clash! I hope before too long (after suing the pants off hell out of your ex) you’re back at work spreading love and joy and silliness to the kids of the world.
And if you wanna send some sexy emails, might I suggest a cell phone?
This one looks nice..